Three Hearthstone players who held up a pro-Hong Kong protest sign during a live stream have decided to drop out of the competition.
Casey Chambers, Corwin Dark, and "TJammer" of American University announced that they are forfeiting their upcoming Hearthstone match and pulling out of the tournament entirely.
American University's Support For Blitzchung
The trio made headlines earlier this week when they flashed a sign that read "Free Hong Kong, Boycott Blizz" during a live broadcast of the competition on Blizzard's official Twitch channel.
The stunt was made in support of fellow Hearthstone player Chung "Blitzchung" Ng Wai, who was suspended by the game developer for a year for pulling a similar act.
Chambers, Dark, and TJammer were prepared to get a similar suspension from Blizzard, but no such sanction ever materialized. Instead, the game company and its tournament partner Tespa allowed the members of the team American University to move to their next scheduled match.
However, all three players have decided to drop out of the competition.
"We feel it's hypocritical for Blizzard to punish Blitzchung but not us," the trio told USgamer.
"The response from Blizzard shows that as soon as the messaging is out of the view of China, they don't care about 'political' messaging."
Blitzchung's Pro-Hong Kong Protest Comment
Entire controversy started when Blitzchung voiced his support of his fellow Hong Kong natives against the police and the city-state government during a live stream of Hearthstone Asia-Pacific Grandmasters.
Blitzchung was being interviewed following his match when he suddenly pulled a protester's mask and yelled, "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!"
The act was met with harsh penalties from Blizzard, which owned both Hearthstone and the Grandmasters tournament. Not only did the company pull Blitzchung from active competition, but it also took away his prize money from Grandmasters Season 2.
Blizzard also suspended the Hong Kong-based pro player for a year, effectively keeping him from taking part in any Hearthstone tournament.
The game company explained that Blitzchung had violated the Grandmasters' competition rules by engaging in acts that either brought him into public disrepute, offended the public, or damaged Blizzard's image.
However, Blizzard's decision was met with criticism from fans and observers alike, who claim that the company acted too harshly on the matter. Some employees even staged a walkout at the company's Irvine, California office.
Chambers, Dark, and TJammer tried to echo Blitzchung's call by holding up their own sign to support the Hong Kong protests.
Some observers believe the American University players' stunt may have placed Blizzard in a precarious position. If the company were to suspend the trio just like it did with Blitzchung, it would have caused a bigger backlash from the gaming public.
By staying silent on the matter, Blizzard would practically admit that it follows a double standard when it comes to implementing its rules.